By next summer, a pair of World War II-era warehouses that have stored everything from Navy rations to bulk cotton could instead house a hipster wonderland where handbags are made from repurposed book spines and vendors sell gourmet street food.
The Port of Los Angeles, which owns the faded, wooden warehouses in San Pedro near Cabrillo Marina, plans to lease them to a Santa Monica outfit that will turn the 70-year-old structures into a year-round market for craft art.
Port officials hope it will bring enough visitors to help spur the redevelopment of San Pedro’s waterfront, while developer Bergamot Station Ltd. sees it as a way to cash in on the demand for handmade, locally produced crafts.
“Right now, there’s a confluence of people wanting to be very careful about how they spend their money and wanting their purchases to be more meaningful,” said Alison Marik Zeno, manager of the project, to be called Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles.
Developing a craft-art market is a shift for Bergamot Station, which developed Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station Arts Center, a home to fine-art galleries and creative offices. The project at the port will be decidedly more populist.
Tenants at Crafted might include local artists who knit, make custom surfboards or craft jewelry from objects found near the port. Marik Zeno said the goal is to have fresh, interesting art that’s also approachable and affordable.
Port officials are hoping Crafted will help give the San Pedro waterfront a more steady stream of visitors, while port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said Bergamot Station’s cachet should be useful in attracting a developer interested in revamping the port’s aging Ports O’ Call Village, a nearby strip of waterfront businesses that is busy only on weekends.
“There’s a little buzz from developers when they heard the folks from Bergamot Station were coming down,” Knatz said.
‘Not a swap meet’
San Pedro already has a local arts scene, with a few galleries in its historic downtown and the port is installing local art projects around the waterfront.
Marik Zeno said that makes San Pedro a good fit for Crafted, which she envisions as a place to spend a day, get some upscale street food and find an interesting trinket or two.
The project will turn 140,000 square feet in two warehouses into about 500 market stalls for artists and artisans selling anything from handmade jewelry to furniture made from repurposed wood.
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